Home » La Liga, Latest » Match Report: Atlético Madrid 1 Barcelona 2

Lionel Messi’s stunning free-kick nine minutes from time handed Barcelona a hard-fought Primera Division victory over Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon.

The Argentina forward had a goal ruled out early on for handball but played a part as Dani Alves opened the scoring eight minutes before half-time.

Atletico levelled just after the break as Radamel Falcao Garcia turned in Gabi’s corner and the Colombian had a great chance to give Los Rojiblancos the lead on 69 minutes but was denied by a fine save from Victor Valdes.

And Valdes was to come to the rescue again after Messi had put the European champions back in front, blocking Juanfran’s effort from point-blank range in the final minute.

Atletico had been unbeaten in their previous nine games since Diego Simeone took charge, but it was Barca who started on the front foot.

Xavi saw a shot trickle just wide inside two minutes before Messi appeared to have opened the scoring with an incredible piece of skill as he waltzed past two Atletico challenges and flicked the ball over Thibaut Courtois. However, referee Perez Lasa adjudged that the Argentinian had handled in controlling the ball and cautioned the Ballon d’Or winner for the offence.

Xavi tested Courtois with a curling free-kick that the Belgian did well to turn behind, but Atletico were struggling to hold onto possession for any period of time and the opener finally arrived for the visitors on 36 minutes.

Messi was inevitably involved as he shrugged off three Atletico challenges and laid the ball wide for Cesc Fabregas, who squared for Alves to tap home.

However, as has been the case in many games since Simeone took charge, Atletico improved greatly after the break and were level within three minutes of the interval as a corner from the right was flicked onto Falcao at the back post and he volleyed home from close range.

The goal seemed to unsettle Barca for a spell as Atletico pressed high and won the ball further up the pitch, but the champions soon refound their passing rhythm and Alexis Sanchez missed a great opportunity to put them back in front as he could only head Alves’ cross over from a tight angle.

Moments later Falcao had the chance to put the hosts in front but Valdes made a fine save as the Colombian tried to lift the ball over him.

When the winner did arrive nine minutes from time, though, there was a touch of controversy about it. With Atletico still assembling their wall for a free-kick on the edge of the area, Messi curled in a wonderful shot over Courtois into the far corner of the net. And, despite the Atletico protests, the goal stood.

The home side still nearly rescued a point as Valdes denied Juanfran and spilled Gabi’s fierce volley from range, but there was no Atletico player following up to take advantage and Barca held on to cut Real Madrid’s advantage at the Primera Division back to 10 points.

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